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The Art Of Music

  • Writer's picturePhillip Anderson

2o Year Anniversary

Today is the 20th anniversary of my first deployment to Iraq. I was there to conduct a reconnaissance in preparation for deploying the first musicians from the Australian Defence Force into the Middle East Area of Operations (MEAO). This would be the first time an Australian Defence Force Band deployed on active service since the Vietnam War, some 30 years earlier.

A career highlight for me was having the opportunity to select those 16 incredible people and talented musicians for this deployment during Christmas 2003 and for the New Year. Their mission was to provide morale boosting support to Australian and Coalition forces deployed in the Gulf at this important time of year.

During the deployment they each demonstrated the calibre of the Navy Band, it's flexibility and the effectiveness of our organisation. There can be no doubt about how our people and our organisation were received. This was an outstanding result, and a testament to the quality of our people and our strength as an organisation.

The deployment included intensive rehearsals, force preparation, and weapons training in Australia, followed by in-theatre force preparation and weapons training assessment prior to being permitted to travel into Iraq. We transported throughout Iraq and other staging points in the Middle East, more than three tonnes of equipment and performed 20 major concerts (all highly choreographed and from memory).

Proving that music really is a universal language, we were joined for our Christmas Concert at Camp Victory, by members of the United States Army Band.

Navy's musicians gave a truly magnificent performance, and I could not have been prouder to be in their company.

During my tenure as the Director of Music Navy, I had the opportunity to select 56 musicians for similar operational deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan. Many more were selected for 21 sea deployments. On every occasion, they performed magnificently, with honour and pride for the Royal Australian Navy and for their nation.

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